We are going to continue on the subject of words that confuse. This time Ensure, Assure and Insure take center stage. Of course, the first point to make is that all of these are verbs and have the general meaning “to make sure”. Some experts will tell you that they are interchangeable, but in truth their usage is actually dependent on context. Let’s take a look at these guys in their own environments.
Assure – This word is used when you talking to a person, a group of people or even an animal. Assure is to use to remove doubt or anxiety. For example you can assure a panel of experts that your data has been double checked and verified. Simply put, only something that is alive suffers from doubt or anxiety. So, only they can be assured.
Ensure – This word is used to guarantee an event or condition has been met. For example you can ensure that you have enough spiked eggnog for the party by having extra ingredients on hand. In this case the extra materials are used to ensure the condition.
Insure – This word is used when something needs to be done to a noun (person, place or thing). Its most common usage comes in the form of an insurance policy. For example you can wonder if you are insured if one of your party guests falls into the pool. In this case liability is the issue and we can insure we are protected by having proper insurance.
There is a related verb, “secure”. This word is used when you take possession of a noun. For example you can secure the pool area by putting up barriers to keep party members from falling in. In this case you take an action to prevent a problem from occurring.